Espresso Machines

Best Espresso Machines 2020

And while we’ve written about lots of ways to get the perfect cup of coffee at home — including the best milk frothers and the best drip coffee makers — here we’ve rounded up the best espresso machines, . We focused on electric espresso machines for our best-rated and best-rated (less expensive) picks, but we’ve included a few well-rated stove-top espresso makers, as well as some Nespresso machines, further down.

Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine

  • Dose control grinding: Integrated conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
  • Precise espresso extraction: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal Espresso extraction
  • Micro foam milk texturing: The steam wand performance allows you to hand texture micro foam milk that enhances flavor and enables creation of latte art
  • Grind size dial: Simple and intuitive, giving you control over the grind size no matter what type of bean you’re grinding
  • Hands free operation: Innovative grinding cradle allows any at home Barista to grind directly into the espresso port filter
  • Bean Hopper Capacity: 1/2 lb.; Water Tank Capacity: 67 oz.
  • Settings: Single or double shots; Adjustable grind amount & manual over ride;
  • Power 1600 Watts; Volts 120
  • 1 Year Limited Product Warranty

Most espresso machines don’t come with everything you need, so you end up buying a bunch of accessories to actually make your coffee. Not so with the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine.

It comes with a stainless steel conical burr grinder, a 1/2 pound sealed bean hopper, a 54mm tamper, a steaming wand for frothing your milk, and a frothing pitcher. The only thing you need to buy is the espresso beans. The user manual is very detailed, so you should be able to follow its instructions without too much trouble.

Based on our testing, learning how to use the machine is well worth the effort, and the result is absolutely beautiful-tasting coffee. It’s actually really easy to use, and you’ll have the process down after two or three attempts.

The Barista Express espresso machine uses a 15 Bar Italian Pump and a 1600W Thermocoil heating system to make rich espresso. Since it’s a semi-automatic machine, the Breville automatically adjusts water temperature after steam to extract the most flavor out of your beans. The machine also has a 67 fl.oz (2L) water tank with a nice handle for easy removal, and it comes with a replaceable water filter.

The built-in burr grinder is high quality, and you can easily adjust the grind size and amount with a dial on the front of the machine. You can choose to use either a single- or double-wall filter basket, and the grinder will automatically adjust to give you the right amount of coffee grounds for your brew. Reviewers love that it comes with the grinder and praise its quality.

If you push the 54mm stainless steel portafilter into the hands-free grinding cradle, the grounds will go right into the filter. The grinder shuts off when it’s done, too, so you don’t have to worry about figuring out if you’ve got the right amount. Finally, the included 54mm tamper ensures that your grounds are evenly pressed, so you get the most out of your beans.

When it comes to deciding how much espresso you want to make, you can choose between two presets for 1- and 2-cup volumes. Alternatively, you can manually override the settings and choose your own amount of espresso.

The Thermocoil heating system controls the water temperature, and you can watch the espresso machine’s pressure gauge. If you want frothy milk on top of your espresso, you can use the 360-degree swivel steam wand to whip up some foam in the included milk pitcher.

A removable drip tray catches any excess, so you don’t end up with a huge mess on your hands. You do have to clean that part every day. Breville’s machine will also tell you when it needs a thorough cleaning, and it comes with a special cleaning kit. Follow Breville’s very detailed care and maintenance guide to keep your machine in working order.

The machine comes with a one-year warranty in case of issues. User feedback is very positive, and most people had a very easy time making high-end espresso with the machine.

If you’re inexperienced, it’s a good machine to learn with, and if you’re interested in fiddling around with settings, you can do that, too. It’s an all-around great espresso machine, according to several reviews by experts and everyday users.

Positives
  • Built-in burr grinder and frother, makes great crema on your espresso, it’s relatively easy to use, lovely design, and a one-year warranty

Negatives
  • Slower than the newer Breville Pro

Nespresso by De’Longhi ENV150GY VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine by De’Longhi

  • Automatic coffee/espresso maker: Espresso VertuoPlus offers the latest innovation from espresso with an all-new design and colors to complete the perfect single-serve coffee or espresso cup experience. Designed for espresso capsules only.
  • Smart coffee maker: Brew the perfect single-serve coffee or espresso drink time after time, thanks to Nespresso’s technology using barcodes to deliver the best in-cup results including the perfect cream for large coffee cup sizes. Simply insert the capsule and enjoy freshly brewed coffee or authentic espresso.
  • Complimentary gift: Each machine includes a welcome kit with a range of Vertuo capsules with unique aroma profiles. Cable length- 29.13 inches. Power rating (in watts)- 1300 watt
  • Barista grade: Brew different single-serve coffee cup sizes at the touch of a button depending on your coffee needs – espresso (1.35 ounce), double espresso (2.7 ounce), gran lungo (5 ounce), coffee (7.7 ounce) and alto (14 ounce). Pour over ice to create your favorite iced coffee drinks.
  • Features: The VertuoPlus has a motorized head and moveable 60 ounce water tank. The water tank can swivel out or stay behind the machine based on the configuration of your counter space. The machine also has a fast heat-up time of only 20-25 seconds and has an automatic shutoff after 9 minutes. Input power (W): 1350

True espresso purists may shudder at the thought of popping coffee in a pod and pressing a button to extract espresso from it, but convenience is king these days. Nespresso made espresso pods popular, and now they’re everywhere. If you want to go that route, the Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker by De’Longhi is your best option.

The first thing you need to know is that the pods are expensive — a lot more than a bag of good espresso beans. However, if ease-of-use and convenience are more important to you than money, the Nespresso VertuoPlus espresso machine will be worth its weight in gold. Just don’t forget to recycle!

The Nespresso machine takes all the grinding, tamping, and measuring out of the equation. You just turn it on, pop some pods in, and press the button to make espresso. It has a fast pre-heating time, and the pump offers 19 bars of pressure. The water tank has a 40-ounce capacity.

Positives
  • You don’t have to do anything, pods are easy to buy online, fun flavors, easy to use, and it’s inexpensive

Negatives
  • You have to recycle the pods, pods are expensive, not the best espresso you can make at home

Flair Espresso Maker, Classic – Manual Press

  • HANDCRAFT SHOTS OF ESPRESSO – With the Flair Espresso Maker, you have a complete manual espresso machine that can produce professional quality shots of espresso from your home, or wherever you are. Add 60ml of boiled water and a dose of up to 18 grams to yield a 40 ml shot with beautiful crema. A burr grinder is essential for use with this product.
  • FULLY MANUAL & COMPLETELY BEAUTIFUL – The Flair is a 100% human-powered, manual espresso press. There are no plugs or electronics, meaning the Flair, which was designed from the ground up, will look beautiful in any coffee station or kitchen.
  • EASY TO CLEAN – The Flair Espresso Maker is the only manual espresso maker with a completely detachable brewing head. This patented design allows for users to completely remove the brewing head, separate the parts, and rinse under cool water.
  • BUILT TO LAST – Now with an upgraded, stronger base, post and lever! Made from durable materials like cast aluminum and stainless steel, you can be sure your manual espresso maker, by Flair, is built to last. Both the aluminum press stand and the stainless steel brewing head are backed by a 5-year warranty.
  • FULLY PORTABLE – All Flair Espresso Makers come standard with our precision cut and padded carrying case meaning you can take your manual espresso maker anywhere you’d like.

Being a full-blown espresso fiend, my quest for the perfect espresso is never-ending. I’ve generally been pleased with the $5,000+ machines from which my café shots come, but getting anywhere near that quality at home has been a constant challenge. Sure, I am, on occasion, impressed with my success while working with my simple stovetop Bialetti Mokka Pot or GROSCHE stovetop espresso machine.

I originally liked the Flair as a potential portable espresso maker for camping, and perhaps for a camper van, but it quickly found a home on my kitchen counter and hasn’t left since.

Pulling a shot of espresso with the Flair is something of a chore in the beginning, but it really only takes somewhere between three and five minutes. If you’re used to using any type of espresso machine or pot, you’ll pick it up quickly. The first piece of advice I’ll give you is that investing in a burr grinder is going to make your life with the Flair a lot better, and your grounds more consistent.

I learned this the hard way: I started out with a regular blade grinder, ground my beans a little overzealously, and found that I couldn’t get the machine to operate as easily. I pulled a little harder, and then harder still, thinking I might unclog it. At some point I decided, out of curiosity, to put the balance of my body weight down on the thing, at which point the copper-colored part of the stand snapped. If I had read the instruction manual or even the little warning sticker on the machine, I would have realized that half of my body weight was easily the contraption’s limit and well above the pressure required to pull a good shot anyhow.

Since receiving a replacement part, I’ve been a little more cautious, and ultimately, the issue was that sometimes I was grinding my beans too finely, preventing me from pulling a shot at all. Suffice it to say that investing in a burr grinder was the best move.

Positives
  • Affordable, produces thick and cream-rich shots, easy to clean, looks beautiful on the counter

Negatives
  • It can be a bit of a pain to reload it if you’re making espresso for more than one person (but this will more or less be the case with any single-cup espresso machine)

La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine

  • Ideal for making coffee specialty drinks at home
  • Sturdy all-steel construction under heavy chrome plating
  • Comes with tamper, screen, screen holder, measuring ladle, and cappuccino attachment
  • Also includes instructional video for getting started
  • Measures 11 by 7 by 12 inches; 1-year warranty

You might be a little intimidated at first: this is a step up from the Flair, but keep in mind that operating this machine and its attached boiler and steamer still requires a bit of work. Your tamping and grinding skills are at play, and the only way to pull a good shot more often than not is with practice.

There are several companies making lever espresso machines, but La Pavoni has been in the business for over a hundred years, and we like to think they know what they’re doing. La Pavoni lever machines are built like tanks, using hardly any plastic, save for the boiler cap, handle, and steam knob, which can be swapped out for wood. This makes cleaning a cinch, and it also means that these things are designed to last. So long as you don’t do anything catastrophic, you’ll most likely be passing it on to future generations.

But, until you pass your La Pavoni on down the line, you probably won’t be moving it around much. It’s 14 pounds, so the best thing to do is perch it atop a convenient, aesthetically pleasing stretch of kitchen counter and leave it there. This is not a portable machine by any means, and if you’re looking for something you can tuck away, you may want to check out some of the other options on this list.

Positives
  • A classic design that’ll look good in any kitchen, few plastic parts

Negatives
  • Not cheap, takes a little time to perfect pulling a shot

How to clean your espresso machine

espresso machine coffee cup

Espresso machines aren’t the easiest things to clean. Every machine is different, but here are some great basic tips for beginners that should apply to most machines.

  • Clean the outside regularly. It’s best if you do this before and after each use so that you avoid germs, dust, and other particles interfering with your machine.
  • Clean the inside of your machine by running water through it. Each machine will have a slightly different process, and some manufacturers provide tips and suggestions in their user manuals. CoffeeLounge and other sites suggest mixing 2 oz. of vinegar in 20 oz. of water every now and then to clean your machine even more thoroughly. After you use vinegar, though, be sure to rinse your espresso maker three times with water to avoid any lingering vinegar taste in your next drink.
  • Clean the frothing wand and grinder. You can dust off extra grounds with a brush. Clean both after each use.
  • Disassemble and wash any removable parts. Just pop them in your dishwasher or sink for a good soap and water scrub. You don’t have to do this part every day, but try to do it more than once a month.
  • Follow your machine’s instructions. You can also use special espresso cleaners, but be sure to follow all the steps and check for any specific instructions in your machine’s manual.

Everything you need to make espresso

espresso

Some machines come with all the accessories you need to make espresso, but others don’t. Check to see if your machine includes any accessories before you buy them. You will need a grinder for your espresso beans, a milk frother or a milk frothing pitcher if you like foamy milk for cappuccinos or lattes, and a tamper to press down the coffee grounds. We explain why you need each one and share recommendations below.

The best coffee grinders

If your machine doesn’t have a grinder built-in and it doesn’t use pods, you’ll need to buy a grinder. Burr grinders are best, and you should try to get the most powerful one you can find. It’s key to have evenly ground coffee that’s meant for an espresso machine. You’ll get the most flavor and crema out of perfectly ground beans.

The best milk frothers

You’ll need a milk frother for some machines on this list, or at the very least, a milk frothing pitcher. If your machine has a steam frothing wand but no frothing pitcher, we recommend the Rattleware 20-Ounce Latte Art Milk Frothing Pitcher.

The best tampers

A tamper is a nifty tool that evenly presses your grounds so you can make the most out of your coffee beans while making espresso. Here are our top picks.

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